Sacrifice and Expenditure: The Mad Sexual Economics of Georges Bataille and Ezra Pound

Stevenson, Guy. 2015. 'Sacrifice and Expenditure: The Mad Sexual Economics of Georges Bataille and Ezra Pound'. In: European Association of American Literature (EAAS) Biannual Conference. Constanta, Romania 22 - 25 April 2016. [Conference or Workshop Item]

EAAS Paper.pdf - Presentation
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial.

Download (303kB) | Preview

Abstract or Description

It has been widely pointed out that the radicalized political atmosphere of 1930s Europe produced a host of unlikely, often unwitting literary and philosophical bedfellows. Even against this backdrop of shifting and interchangeable ideas, however, the common ground occupied by Georges Bataille and Ezra Pound is remarkable. Poles apart politically and aesthetically, the two writers are rarely figured together by scholars seeking to understand the late modernist landscape. Put simply, while Bataille actively opposed fascism through his 1930s magazine Critique, Pound sided infamously with Mussolini; while Bataille cut his teeth writing Surrealist automatic prose, Pound was – in his capacity as a co-founder of Imagism and Vorticism – a zealous advocate of direct, concrete expression. When it came to finding alternatives to a capitalist system both abhorred, however, they sought surprisingly similar solutions, redefining wealth according to pre-Western models. Part of an inter-war trend that saw an unprecedented number of authors, poets and philosophers turn their hands to amateur – and often primitivist - economics, Bataille’s fascination with Aztec sacrifice and Pound’s with an idyllic pre-usurious age brings them together in bizarre and fascinating ways. This paper uses these crossovers to examine the literary and philosophical fallout of a period in which, as Robert W. Dimond puts it, ‘mainstream economists were unusually open to the ideas of monetary reformers whom they would at other times have dismissed as cranks’.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


Georges Bataille, Ezra Pound, Marxist Economics, Sexuality, The Accursed Share

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature


17 August 2015Accepted
April 2016Completed

Event Location:

Constanta, Romania

Date range:

22 - 25 April 2016

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

14 Jun 2024 11:02

Last Modified:

14 Jun 2024 15:28


View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)